Headache Awareness Week: 6 Hacks to get your head in the game!
15% of Australians are taking pain-relieving medication for headaches at any given time
Headache Australia discovered that a staggering 20% of Australians suffer from migraines at some stage in their lives, and currently affect around 4.9 million of the population
The 2018 Migraine in Australia whitepaper revealed that 71% of migraine sufferers are women and 86% are of working age. To put a monetary value on the impact of headaches and migraines in Australia, the condition is costing Australia a whopping $35.7 billion – impacting health services and productivity levels.
The Better Health Channel indicates around 15% of Australians are taking pain-relieving medication for headaches at any given time. Dietary intake like hydration and nutrition have been linked to trigger migraines.
Rebecca Gawthorne, an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist and founder of award-winning blog Nourish Naturally (159K followers), explains some simple dietary hacks to significantly reduce your chance of getting headaches:
1. Hydrate yo’self
Dehydration causes your brain to pull away from your skull – yes seriously! The Better Health Channel recommends women to drink 8 cups of water per day and men to drink 10 cups. Now you know why!
2. Fresh is best
Migraine triggers have been linked to the consumption of added food preservatives like MSG, nitrates and aspartame, some of which can dilate blood vessels and in turn trigger those pesky headaches. Avoid this by keeping the ‘freshness’ in your diet with vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean proteins. Avoid overly processed foods and check the labels for preservatives. Your body will appreciate what you put in!
3. Get off the sugar high
Sugar binges or a high sugar diet cause your blood sugar level to jump and crash, affecting the constant flow of glucose to your brain that it needs to function which can in turn create pesky headaches. Swap out sugar dense foods like soft-drinks for sugar free options such as water or if you’re after some flavour try Nexba’s Soft Drinks that have no sugar and nothing artificial. I also love to recreate my favourite treats with no/less sugar, there’s great natural sugar replacements out there such as raw honey and coconut sugar.
4. Don’t go hungry
Hunger causes your muscles to tighten and leaves your body in tension which can cause headaches. We are all busy but it’s key to eat regular meals and snacks. If you know you will be going a while between meals choose fibre rich foods like whole grains, veggies, fruit and legumes to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
5. Feed your gut
A recent study has shown that probiotics play a role in positively reducing migraines. The gut is closely connected with the brain, so consuming probiotic rich foods like yoghurt, miso or Kombucha can help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria and reduce headaches. I am loving the Nexba Kombucha range right now as it’s sugar and artificial free and uses a special type of probiotic which is 30% more likely to reach the gut.
6. You are unique!
Everyone is different and you need to be aware of your own food triggers which may affect your migraines. Listen to your body and try to correlate certain sensations to particular foods and avoid if possible. If you suffer from ongoing headaches, keep a food diary and jot down your headaches too – you may notice a pattern!